Sunday, September 14, 2008

When You Write What You Know, You Start the Conversation

I have a hard time coming up with story ideas.

Not because I can't think of any. I dream up plenty on any given day. But my brain has a glitch. It works a little too much. To the point where I overthink and overanalyze my ideas so much that I usually find a reason to dispose of them before any editor even gets the chance to. I think it's a side-effect of working in radio: instead of trying to fill up pages, we're trying to ration out minutes. Mere seconds, in some cases.

But it's something I'm actively trying to change. Particularly because right now, assignments are few in the floating/freelance producer world. I've got some time on my hands, and I've been spending it trying to figure out how to spend it.

"Go do a piece," said one of my colleagues (and sometimes-boss). "You're a good writer. Go find a story to do."

She said it so simply, like she was telling me to grab some orange juice out of the fridge. Doesn't she know in this overactive mind of mine, it's just not that easy?

*sigh* Okay. Yes it is. At least it should be. It just isn't, for me.

I was lamenting over this during a roadtrip with Soraya this weekend. "Just write what you know," she said. Basically, she said, there can be a story in anything.

And no sooner than I sign on to the Internet tonight do I see the very proof of her point.

There's the column about insipid commenters on (I'd been sniveling about that just a day before). There's the New York Times piece about the evolution of Sarah Palin's hairstyle (I'd been sniveling about that too for the past three weeks). And the Modern Love essay about the downsides -- BIG downsides -- of looking someone up on the Internet before the first date (been there...MAJOR mistake). And let me forget the piece about tattooed wedding rings.

(As an addendum: The articles mentioned above also proved another point that Soraya had made -- that Times clearly has its finger on the pulse of culture -- "It leads the conversation on these things," she said -- and that that's some stuff to aspire to.)

So, with my boss' encouragement in my pocket, Soraya's pep talk fresh in my ear, and examples to follow everywhere I look, I've printed out a little helpful phrase and taped it above the keyboard on my laptop:

"You can write about ANYTHING."

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 11:24 PM | link

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